Recently, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in a case that will probably fly under most people’s radar, but which may have dire consequences for the public, the press and even the free market. The case, Food Marketing Institute (FMI) v. Argus Leader, began eight years ago when a reporter for the Argus Leader, a South Dakota newspaper, submitted a Freedom of Information Act request to the U.S. Department of Agriculture asking for information about revenue that retailers receive from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the federal food stamp program paid for by taxpayers. All 50 states and over 100 countries have freedom of information laws that were inspired by and based on the United States Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), adopted by Congress in 1966. All stand for the principle that the public is entitled to access to information held by its government. ADVERTISEMENT But if FMI has its way, private companies, not the government, will decide … [Read more...] about Will corporations decide what information the public gets?
Disclosed to the public
In a strongly worded letter Thursday, the Illinois Prosecutors Bar Association ripped Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx, accusing her of making "repeated misleading and deceptive statements to the public" and having "failed in her most fundamental ethical obligations to the public" during the course of the dismissal of charges against "Empire" actor Jussie Smollett. The IPBA is an association of lawyers similar to the American Bar Association or one of the numerous state bar associations. It does not have the authority to discipline lawyers, but it claims the authority to speak "as the voice for nearly 1,000 front line prosecutors across the State." Foxx has repeatedly insisted that Smollett, who allegedly staged a racist, homophobic attack against himself in late January and filed a false police report in order to further his career, did not receive special treatment and that the diversionary deal he received was available to any defendant in the state. The IPBA took strong … [Read more...] about In brutal letter, Illinois Prosecutors Bar Association says Kim Foxx ‘failed in her most fundamental ethical obligations to the public’ in dismissing Smollett case
With new faces in the legislature and a growing public interest in government accountability, 2019 could be the year Michigan’s transparency laws get a major facelift.As one of the only states that exempts the governor’s office, the legislature and the courts from public scrutiny, Michigan holds the distinction of ranking dead last in a nationwide 2015 government transparency report from the Center for Public Integrity. Past legislative attempts to fix what transparency advocates see as the most glaring omissions - opening the governor, lieutenant governor and legislative offices to public records requests - have fallen flat. “I think every legislator in the state should be embarrassed,” said House Speaker Lee Chatfield, a Northern Michigan Republican. “The people that we serve have a right to know what the government is doing, and I believe that we have the responsibility to tell them the truth.”In 2019, the dynamics have shifted. Chatfield and the … [Read more...] about Is 2019 the year Michigan officials can agree to open their records to the public?
MERRILL - City officials plan to hold a closed session Tuesday to look into residents' complaints about members of the Merrill administration. One expert in Wisconsin public meetings law says it will probably be an illegal session if they keep it closed. The City Council's Personnel & Finance Committee will review feedback from Merrill residents who were confused and angered by an unexpected increase in property tax bills. According to the meeting agenda, committee members will meet privately to consider "financial, medical, social or personal histories or disciplinary data of specific persons, preliminary consideration of specific personnel problems or the investigation of charges against specific persons, which if discussed in public, would be likely to have a substantial adverse effect upon any person referred to in such histories or data, or involved in such problems or investigations, and to review submitted Citizen Feedback Forms related to City employees." … [Read more...] about Merrill officials plan to discuss public complaints in a private, closed session
The University of Chicago's Institute of Politics announces a live taping of "The Axe Files" podcast with former President Barack Obama on November 20. Washington (CNN)When Michelle Obama left the White House in January 2017, she did what most former first ladies often do -- she ditched us for a while. But now she's back, on a revolutionary, arena-filling book tour, and she's got plenty to say. After eight years of living in what she once called the "fishbowl," Obama retreated and began to re-learn life in the real world, away from the 18-acre compound on Pennsylvania Avenue. She and husband, former President Barack Obama, didn't geographically go all that far. Their home, which they reportedly purchased for $8.1 million in 2017, is less than three miles from the White House. But for Michelle Obama, just being able to make toast and sit outside makes it feel much farther away. "Here I am in my new home, just me and (our dogs) Bo and Sunny, and I do a simple thing. I go downstairs … [Read more...] about Michelle Obama’s not-so-quiet return to the limelight